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Pacific MM Lee Praises Sikh Community


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
MM praises Sikh community

MORE than 3,000 Sikhs welcomed Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to the newly-renovated Bhai Maharaj Singh Memorial Temple in Bukit Merah on July 3.

The event also marked 160 years since the arrival of the first Sikh, the anti- colonial revolutionary Bhai Maharaj Singh, who was said to have been exiled to Singapore in 1850. The temple is named after him.

In his speech, MM Lee, who wore a white turban and officially opened the renovated temple, spoke of how the Sikh community maintained its distinct cultural and religious identity through the gurdwaras, clubs and societies, adding to Singapore's cultural richness in the process. He also commended them for setting up institutions such as the Sikh Welfare Council and the Singapore Sikh Education Foundation, formed after Punjabi, Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati and Urdu were offered as mother tongue languages in 1989.

Pointing to prominent members of the community in the nation's government and judiciary department, he said that Sikhs in Singapore had done well.

"We are even-handed to all communities to practise their religions, their traditions and their cultures," he added.

The Central Sikh Gurdwara Board's president Karpal Singh Mehli praised Mr Lee for his "forward looking meritocratic policies" which "provided a level playing field to the minorities in Singapore".

MM Lee also said that there was a need to continue attracting foreign talent to maintain Singapore's competitive edge and keep its population growing.

While noting that the Government would "give priority to citizens", he said that without immigrants, Singapore's economy would "gradually stagnate and our population will age and decline".

After his speech, he was presented with a kirpan, the ceremonial short sword - one of five articles crucial to the Sikh faith - by prominent Sikh businessman Kartar Singh Thakral. The kirpan had been purchased from Punjab for the occasion.

The renovation of the Bhai Maharaj Singh Memorial Gurdwara, also known as the Gurdwara Sahib Silat Road or more popularly as the Silat Road Sikh temple, is part of the $3.8 million upgrading project that includes the Central Sikh Temple in Towner Road. The upgrades at the Silat temple included expanding the memorial hall to accommodate a larger congregation.

MM praises Sikh community


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